Inorganic Chemistry

Nano- and Mesoscale Structures of Amorphous Calcium Carbonate Indicate Nanoscale Assembly Processes


Here, we approach the issue of ACC ultrastructure by applying a method for determining atomically resolved structures of amorphous materials using Monte Carlo simulations constrained by both X-ray and neutron scattering data. This structural analysis approach allows us to develop a detailed model for ACC at the atomic level. Our findings reveal that synthetic ACC, rapidly precipitated at high pH, consists of two-nanometer sized units containing a high degree of near range order similar to partially disordered nano-crystals. Small-angle scattering analyses show a multi-scale hierarchical organisation of the structure, supportive of a multi-step colloid self-assembly process. Computer simulations and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy show that the mesostructure of ACC resembles that of a glassy gel with crystalline material in domains. Our findings support the formation of ACC by a nanoparticle aggregation process that likely starts from prenucleation clusters in solution.


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